MS Anti-piracy Campaign: let the frivolity ensue

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With an emphasis on "sue". Yes, it did not take long for the frivolous lawsuits in response to Microsoft’s Black Screen anti-piracy campaign, which I wrote about the other day:

An angry Chinese lawyer accused Microsoft of perpetrating the biggest ever hacker attack in response to the software giant’s controversial move to trigger hourly screen blackouts on computers using pirated copies of Windows XP.

On October 20, Dong Zhengwei, a lawyer of Beijing Zhongyin Law Office, sent a complaint to China’s Ministry of Public Security, accusing Microsoft of invading personal computers without user permission or judicial authorization, the Beijing Times reported.

Dong said the judiciary should assign criminal responsibility for the Windows Genuine Advantage Program so called "Black Screen" scheme and halt this "illegal move". Not to take anything away from the land of frivolous litigation, the good ol’ US of A, but China has been racking up considerable stats on frivolous suits in recent years. I consider this one to be in the top 100, particularly with respect to that "criminal" language.

Let’s keep in mind what this "outrageous" update actually does to a user’s system:

To fight software piracy Microsoft announced on October 15 that, starting October 21, Microsoft anti-piracy software would be automatically installed on users’ computers through the routine Internet-based update mechanism. If a computer fails a validation test, the desktop will change to a plain black background when the computer is restarted.

Users will be able to reset the black background to any wallpaper or another background color, but every 60 minutes the desktop will revert to black until a genuine copy of Windows is installed.

Oh my, no more custom desktop image! Somebody call a cop! That kind of thing can emotionally scar someone. Here’s the argument:

But in his complaint, Dong Zhengwei said frequent compulsory validations will cause certain functions of PC to slow down and he maintains that computer users face potential information leakage. He characterized Microsoft’s behavior as a kind of "hacker attack", because it infringes users’ privacy and has not been legally authorized.

Not sure about you, but that seems pretty weak. I doubt that this slows down a system (compared to a complex background image???), and the information leakage charge in groundless as far as I know. The legal authorization bit is also lame as the software was installed by the user (without paying for it). Unless this joker can prove that the update fries your motherboard or something, I’m thinking this is a loser, and I get the feeling that Microsoft thought carefully about this before running with the campaign. As I said the other day, I’m impressed.

Finally, here are some (admittedly skewed but interesting) numbers from a QQ poll:

According to a poll on Chinese portal QQ.com, out of 574,923 participants, 73.33 percent said they were using pirate versions of XP, 51.58 percent said they intend to continue using pirate versions, and 32.87 percent said they will ignore Microsoft’s "black screen" campaign. Only 15.55 percent said they intend to buy an authorized version. 77.23 percent said they oppose Microsoft’s action.

I’m thinking that as long as users don’t get really pissed off by this campaign, Microsoft would be extremely happy if this 15% wound up paying for licensed copies. That would be quite a successful campaign, yes?